The Building Blocks of a Professional Punch list Report
Let’s start with a small recap. What exactly is a punch list?
As we explained in a previous blog post:
“A construction punch list (or snag list) is a list of items that need to be completed to comply with the terms of the contract and is prepared when the construction project reaches the final stage. Contractor and customer (or customer’s representative like architect or inspection professional) do a walk-through on the job site, thinking about the terms of the contract, and note down all deficiencies that need to be solved.
Typically the final payment by the customer towards the contractor is tied to completing the items on the list. The money owed to the contractor that is paid out upon completion of the list is often referred to as the ‘retainage’ and varies between 2% and 10% of the total contract value. This ensures the contractors don’t turn in the keys before the project is finished – finished meaning “compliant with the contract”. Most contracts also include timing specifications ensuring that the work will be done in timely matter. As the contract is always the reference, it helps to clearly spell out expectations in the contract before the work begins.”
The punch list is a list of all items that need to be completed before the contractor is paid out completely.
Obviously, it’s crucial that the punch lists report is crystal clear (to avoid misunderstanding), well structured, and legally binding.
With a good punch list, the contractor knows exactly what items need to solved by when.
Unclear or incomplete punch lists generate extra questions, misunderstandings, discussions or – worst case – lawsuits, which can be both time-consuming and expensive.
Let’s take a look at the most important elements of a professional punch list report:
Building blocks of a professional punch list report
Information to be included in the header of the punch list report:
- Company logo
- Company name
- Company address
The title of the reports should be short and clear, so everyone knows exactly what it’s about.
Example: “Punch list report for project ABC”
If someone gets your punch list report, they’ll want to know immediately which project it is about, without having to figure it out. Often the report will also be sent to the client, and it shows courtesy and respect by putting their name and project description clearly at the beginning of the report.
Things to include:
- Name of the project and customer
- Full address of the projects
- Short description of the project
Date and time
Note the exact date and time of the punch list meeting. This date can be important in case of discussions or disputes.
This is important! Protect yourself from possible lawsuits. Including some standard boilerplate language in each punch list and field report might save you lots of trouble, time and money sooner or later.
If you don’t know where to start, here is a standard text that you could use:
“Disclaimer: Site visits performed under this contract have been conducted under the limited conditions as described by site observations in the General Conditions of the Contract for Construction, as referenced in the Owner-Architect Agreement.
Information contained in this Punch list Report by firm name has been prepared to the best of our knowledge according to observable conditions at the site. This information will be approved record unless written notice to the contrary is received within seven (7) calendar days of the issue date of this document. Written corrections shall be reported to observer at firm name. Oral rebuttals will not be accepted.”
Include a list of the people that were present on the site at the time of the punch list meeting. Ideally, you show this in a table where project contacts are listed, together with their name, role and contact details and an indication of who was present. Also, include a distribution column that shows to whom the punch list report has been distributed.
Observations to fix
The punch list contains all items that need to be completed to comply with the terms of the contract. Examples of punch list items are repair broken window, replace stained wallboard, repair cracked paving, touch up paint …
For every punch list item, sufficient details should be added to avoid misunderstandings and discussions later on.
- Observation name
- Observation number: this makes it easy to refer to items later on, and avoids confusion and misunderstanding.
- Observation deadline
- Location, eg by adding a location pointer on the floor plan
- Pictures, with sketches and comments
- Assignee (who has to fix this item?)
- Observation description, with more info and details of the issue and how to fix it
Top Tip: Take enough pictures to illustrate or clarify your observations. Pictures say more than a thousand words. Photos also increase the readability of your report. No one reads a report consisting of plain text, but you can be sure that people who receive your punch list and scan it quickly will take a look at the pictures first. That’s because pictures are so easy to digest. Avoid writing pages of text and use pictures to convey the message.
In the footer, mention the punch list creator name or email, and page numbers.
To avoid discussions later on, it’s a best practice to have all parties involved (owner, general contractor and architect) sign off the punch list.
There’s a better way to finish a construction punch list
With so many small fixes to address, lots of construction companies and architects have started using dedicated software to help them efficiently manage their punch lists. With an app like ArchiSnapper you can document your punch list items immediately during the punch list meeting: add an observation, immediately take a picture and – if needed – complete it with a location, assignee, description, due date.
This will save you hours of time, and will also make a professional impression on the other parties (customer, contractors) when they receive a professional looking punch list in a very timely manner.
It’s time to put down that old-fashioned tape recorder and notepad, cause clearly there is a better way :)
Want to check out a sample punch list report created with ArchiSnapper? Download a sample punch list here!